by Linda Straker
- Meeting before budget presentation is Finance Committee’s most important meeting
- Original date for the Finance Committee meeting was 17 November
- Date brought forward to facilitate travel schedule of multiple Government members
The 5 Opposition members in the Lower House of Parliament will not be part of the Finance Committee meeting which will be used by Government to explain and justify the allocation of funds for the 2024 Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure.
“The Government side has insisted on the rescheduled date despite being informed that members, including the Leader of the Opposition, will not be available on that date,” said a news release from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
The release said that the original date for the Finance Committee meeting was 17 November, but it was reportedly brought forward to facilitate the travel schedule of multiple Government members, including Prime Minister Hon. Dickon Mitchell.
Hon. Clarice Modeste, Deputy Speaker and the focal point for communications between the Opposition and Government, wrote 2 letters to Hon. Phillip Telesford, Leader of Government Business explaining to the Government side that the Opposition is unprepared to engage in the meeting because there was no document provided in a timely manner.
“Hon. Telesford had informed members last week that the meeting was being brought forward, and while an agenda was presented in the notice, there was no document for MPs to prepare for the meeting,” said the release which explained that the Finance Committee meeting before the presentation of any budget is the most important meeting of that committee.
“Not only was the brought-forward meeting scheduled with no proper documents, but it also clashed with another schedule by Opposition Leader, Dr Rt Hon. Keith Mitchell, which was arranged based on the original date for the meeting.” The release stated that Opposition members have been preparing their activities based on the calendar of events prepared by the Government.
When no response was received from the first letter sent, Hon. Modeste wrote a second emphasising the Opposition’s concerns. “I write further to my letter of yesterday and yet again today, reiterating our concern about how sittings of the House of Representatives are scheduled without any consultation with the Opposition side of the House.”
The Opposition members said they are prepared to discuss a convenient date with the Government on which both sides are available to conduct this very important meeting in preparation for the 2024 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.